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Some Things You May Not Have Thought About -- Addendum

In a previous installment...

  • mention was made of the US resupplying Israel with armaments: Stars & Stripes; according to reports, mortar rounds and ammuntion for grenade launchers. 
  • Then, before Congress left for its unearned summer vacation, it voted funds for a resupply of Israel's Iron Dome rockets; some sleight of hand it turns out.
  • Then, there are reports that the U.S. National Security Agency supplies Israel with targeting information. Perhaps for Gaza?  Glenn Greenwald's account.

And then: various countries and international bodies support UNRWA, the organization that cares for Palestinian refugees from Israel both in Gaza and the West Bank. These funds will be solicited to rebuild Gaza, perhaps in time for the next Israeli assault.

If the world in various guises is paying both Israel and Hamas, can we ask why? And should we? What if each had to pay their own expenses? What if taxpayers in the U.S. and the EU all said, not in our name.

ADDENDUM: There's a gremlin in a link to a Haaretz story (citing the WSJ) to the effect that the weapons' transfers were done without WH or State Dept. approval. The transfers are now being held up by the WH.  Haaretz   "According to a senior U.S. official, the decision to tighten oversight and require approval of higher-ranking officials over shipments, was intended to make it clear to Israel that there is no "blank check" from Washington in regards to the U.S.-made weapons the IDF makes use of in its Gaza operations."

There is much else in this report including expressions of Netanyahu's arrogance: he can outwait whatever Obama may do, because he has Congress in his pocket as well as the direct links Israeli officials have to officials and departments of the U.S. government. Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal story in case you have access.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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If Edward Snowden wasn't Time's Man of the Year, he should have been.  Maybe he still can be.

According to the New Yorker online today, Hillary Clinton, in her interview for the "Atlantic" proclaimed unconditional support for the Israeli strikes in Gaza, including saying that, regrettable as the deaths of numerous Palestinian civilians and children, the fault for the conflict and its casualties lay completely with Hamas. Astonishing.

She is definitely on Netanyahu's go-to list and AIPAC's.

Her much-quoted line in the Goldberg interview, citing Obama, "'Don't do stupid Stuff' is not a strategy," sounds a bit like stupid stuff from a speech writer. It makes you want to know what she thoought she was really doing as Secretary of State.  Was it Cassidy in the New Yorker piece who reminded us why she lost to Obama in the 2008 primaries? Go along to get along.

What Obama should be aware of is you do  not tip your hand to factions in the Middle East. It is almost like children. Or even your friends sometimes. They should not be sure that you won't do "stupid things" even if that is the case. Carter was not afraid of Iran. He just made it too clear that he would not do something. 

You people are utterly amazing. So your take is that Israel is occupying land that really belongs to people called Palestinians.....that Israel is blockading Gaza and should stop that to allow Hamas to stock up on rockets and other armaments....that Israel enjoys killing civilians and should just stop saying they're defending themselves. Wait, these are the positions of could that be?

I don't think it's strange that we sell arms to Israel.  They are our ally and one of the few (the only?) western-friendly democracy in that area.

I don't think we should be surprised that Hilary Clinton is trying to politically position herself with the very influential Israel supporters here in the US - which means you have to embrace the current Israeli government.  [After all, Hilary was the Senator from New York!]  This is probably the most definitive indication we have received to date from Clinton that she really intends to run for the presidency in 2016.

Clinton is not worried about making trouble for or "separating" herself from Obama.  Clinton really wants to be President.  She is trying to outflank the most credible candidate the Republicans have on the issue of supporting Israel - where in the past he has not been that supportive, if not downright anti-Israel - and the issue of confrontation with radical Islamic movements:  Rand Paul.

Paul has gone strangely silent on the issue of how the US responds to the rise of ISIL.  [Has he retreated to his media bunker?]  Me thinks it's because he knows that he is in a political bind, and it would be better to wait and see which way things go in northern Iraq.

If Hilary wants to be president, there can't be perceived any light between herself and Israel's supporters, especially in the Democratic Party.

BTW, I wouldn't be surprised if the Israelis are involved in supplying some of that targeting information to the Kurds.  After all, the US, we, gave all that technology to Israel so that we could have a strategic military platform in the region to keep track of our enemies who shift from week to week.

[It's truly ironic - or is it logical? - that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is an ARABIC probverb!]

Should Americans be concerned that the government of Israel and its U.S. representative, AIPAC, have veto power over our elected officials, presidents, senators, representatives?

Of course, we live in a country of immigrants some of whom retain ties to their native lands, Poland, Cuba, Ireland, and England could serve as representative examples. These voters do look to elected officials to understand and sometimes support the interests of those foreign states. There are many reasons that israel more than any other gets that support from elected leaders. The downside to this is that officials who do not support the AIPAC agenda get booted from office by fair means and foul.

We have been on this path long enought to recognize that U.S. unstining support for Israel, whether through votes at the UN, money, weaponry, or moral applause, has not helped Israel or Palestinians come to some settlement on how two peoples can live in one land, if not one nation. Nearly seventy years of conflict (since 1948) has contributed to the struggles in the ME between moderate governments, moderate Islam, and groups like Al Quada and ISIL. I won't say caused it, but rather exacerbated the problems of post-colonial development (thank you, Britain and France).

Hillary Clinton seems ready to return to a "whatever you say" policy vis a vis Israel. When Obama has barely gotten out from under that rubric, it makes me wonder about her political judgement, or maybe we should just say her political calculations.  Even Joe Biden knows better now.

I doubt Hillary Clinton's stance on Israel will keep most liberal democrats from voting for her - there are many other facotrs that are more important.  I would vote for her no matter how she felt about Israel.

See what I mean?   NYTimes:  "Amid the fighting in Gaza, more and more American officials are booking trips here. The visits are mutually beneficial: The Israeli government, which has suffered withering international criticism, gets special guests to help make its case. And for American politicians, nothing demonstrates solidarity like actually showing up." 

Is there a Hillary Doctrine: Here is Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "It so happens that I think "don't do stupid stuff" is a pretty good approach to foreign policy at the moment. It's underrated in most of life, in fact, while "doctrines" are mostly straitjackets that force you to fight the last war over and over and over. The fact that Hillary Clinton (a) brushes this off and (b) declines to say what her foreign policy would be based on—well, it frankly scares me. My read of all this is that Hillary is itching to outline a much more aggressive foreign policy but doesn't think she can quite get away with it yet. She figures she needs to distance herself from Obama slowly, and she needs to wait for the American public to give her an opportunity. My guess is that any crisis will do that happens to pop up in 2015."

Could we agree that not doing stupid stuff is a basic common denominator of foreign policy?

Speaker Tip O'Neill famously said that "All politics is local."  

In American presidential politics one of the forms that truism takes is the almost universal support by the American electorate for Israel - it's truly bi-partisan.  Rare is the politician that gets elected president without the support of the American Jewish community.  Democrats especially find that support for Israel is especially local - that's just the way our politics works.

Because of strategic and political convenience really stretching back to 1948, Israel and the US are inexorably tied together - and will remain so for the foreseeable future no matter what the West's dependency on Arab oil.  A rabbi friend of mine - a US citizen who was born in Jerusalem - once told me that America's and Israel's relationship was born in the death camps of WW2 - maybe he's right?

Is this a good thing for American national interests?  Sometimes, maybe not so much.  However mostly, it serves American strategic interests in a region that is largely hostile to our interests, our culture, our history to have a solid bond with Israel.  It's like the sun-rising-in-the-east-every-morning kinda thing.

I just wish the Israelis would stay out of our internal politics as they are insistent that we stay out of theirs.

In case anyone wonders why Hamas, effectively the ruler of Gaza, continues to initiate rocket attacks on Israel, here are some delectable words from the Hamas Charter: (All italics and bold added by me, for emphasis)

From The Platform

And if the People of the Scripture had believed, it had been better for them. Some of them are believers; but most of them are evil-doers. [Italics added]

Surat Al-Imran (III), verses 109-111 Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.

From Article Seven

The time [The victory of Hamas] will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).

From Article Fifteen

The place of the whip of one among you in Paradise is better than the entire world and everything that exists in it. [God’s] worshiper’s going and coming in the Path of Allah is better than the entire world and everything that exists in it.” (Told by Bukhari, Muslim Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja) I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill (told by Bukhari and Muslim).





Check out this you tube video. How representative do you think the young woman's views are? The one who says that she thinks that they (Israel) should just raze the city to the ground. Check out the 40 second mark.



Not a chance. According to the WSJ reported in RT

The Obama administration sees the Netanyahu government as reckless and untrustworthy, while they in response see the White House as weak and naïve, the newspaper reports its sources as saying. Israel is not too worried about the tensions due to the strong support in Congress. The prime minister thinks he can simply wait out the current administration, the newspaper says.

What Israel wants is a homeland enjoying peace in the land once known as Canaan. The only way modern Israel can have that is to apply a Final Solution to its "Palestinian problem." That is the one thing a Jewish state cannot do. So the policy of Israel's government is to want what it can't have.

The United States supports Israel's policy. We do that not only (but not least) because failure to do so will lead to a well-financed opponent next time our policy-deciders run for office but also because our support gives us certain amount of influence over Israeli decision-making. So we are complicit when Israel feels forced to see women and children as "human shields" and knock them out of the way,

I think that is a pretty fair and accurate statement of the problem. But all of proposed solutions I've seen are nasty and noxious and probably lead to other problems just as bad. If Americans could deal with tragic situations, we could have democracy. But we can't, and that is why we are drifting away from democracy into government-by-lobby.

Tom Blackburn: "our support gives us certain amount of influence over Israeli decision-making." Any examples of that?

The extremists among both Israelis and Palestinians want the same thing: to annihilate the other. The support and subventions of the U.S. for israel are not meant for that purpose but as you look at succeeding Israeli government that is the language that is increasingly used. See: Avigador Lieberman, for example. 

The PA and Abbas who finally made some form of "peace" with israel is marginalized by Netanyahu while Hamas becomes the enemy, cf Bob Schwartz above. Hamas in Gaza exists on the beneficence of the UN and on various ME countries while the people of Gaza, many exiled from their homes and lands in what is now Israel suffer the consequences.  The world enables this hatred in different forms and let us agree that the U.S. and Canada and Britain are among the worst offenders when it comes to Israel. That is one of the things wrong with AIPACs approval or disapproval of U.S. politicians.

I was amazed that even Manhattan's borough president, Gale Brewer, is going to Israel, but on her own dime!

MOS, Yeah, I was amazed that down here in Florida everybody knew, in detail, where the candidates in the last New York mayoral race stood on Israel, even if they couldn't say for sure if the same candidafe could find Brooklyn without a map.

Your example: Israel didn't use its nukes on Saddam when his Scuds were flying.,

Example: More than twenty years ago! As we say in Chicago: What have they done for us recently?

How representative are her views?  I have no idea.  But maybe you can find a documented official government statement by Israel that is equivalent to the Hamas charter?  And the young lady is correct:  Hamas was elected by the folks in Gaza, and  that says a lot about the folks in Gaza, as well as saying a lot about Islamic culure in general. And as I look at the Islamic world, everywhere I see violence, mistreatment of women, and in general a culture of ignorance and hate.  I thank God everytime I realize the blessings of living America, and what a nightmare it would be to live anywhere in Islam. 

Sorry George, my last post was in reply to your post about the youtube video.

Bob Schwartz, We're luck to have you here with us in America! I suspect many residents of Gaza would like to be here too, since many of them can't live in their own home and on their own land. Whereas, the Israelis can come and go as they please with their dual passports and the freedom to choose to live in America and in Israel. (Of course, they have every legal right to do so.)

And the young lady is correct

No she is not correct, she is not a little bit fascist, she is a LOT fascist. And they have so "othered" the Palestinians that it all seems lost. And when you have people like Gingrich calling them a ficticiou people and there is no outcry, that says a lot about American politcal culture. Imagine what would happen if a politician started talking about the Ashkenazi Jews as being fictitious since their ancestors are actually European and not middle-eastern.


She said the people of Gaza chose Hamas.  That is a correct statement.  As for whether or not the young lady is a little bit fascist or a lot has nothing to do with the choice of Hamas the voters of Gaza made to rule them.  Since they chose an arguably fascist organization to rule them, seems to me that makes them the fascists.

Margaret: Thanks for the complement!


So her follow up comment that bombing is the ONLY solution (how about citizenship??) and that she things that they should just "clear off all the city and just take it off the ground" is a proportional response. And the only reason I raise this is because I don't think her perspective is an outlier. But you won't hear it from the media savvy Israeli leaders. 

Bob: Wasn't it a compliment?

A bit more about Hamas and its early israeli support: "With its takeover of Gaza after the 1967 war with Egypt, Israel hunted down secular PLO factions, but dropped the previous Egyptian rulers' harsh restrictions against Islamic activists.[13] In fact, Israel for many years tolerated and at times encouraged Islamic activists and groups as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the PLO and its dominant faction, Fatah.[13][14]

"Among the activists benefited was Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, who had also formed the Islamic group Mujama al-Islamiy, a charity recognized by Israel in 1979. Israel allowed the organization to build mosques, clubs, schools, and a library in Gaza.[13]

"Yitzhak Segev, the acting governor of Gaza in 1979, said he had no illusions about Yassin's intentions, having watched an Islamist movement topple the Shah as Israel's military attache in Iran. However, according to Segev, Yassin and his charity were "100% peaceful" towards Israel during this time, and Segev and other Israeli officials feared being viewed as an enemy of Islam. Segev maintained regular contact with Yassin, met with him around a dozen times, and arranged for Yassin to be taken to Israel for hospital treatment."[13]

Wikipedia. But I'm sure you could track down more....

Here's an article I saw today from a US Christian pov ...

Margaret:  Ha ha!  Did I just thank you for giving me some kind of adjunct entity?  But it was a nice compliment.  You're all right, and I don't care what Grant Gallicho says.  (I hope I spelled Grant's name correctly).

Sadly, I feel obligated to vote for Hillary (I assume she will run) over any Republican that I have ever heard of, but never forget that she voted to fund the invasion into Iraq when millions of ordinary Americans opposed this decision.  Something I find to be truly despicable.  She wants to be the leader of the "free" world?  And it does not surprise me that she feels it's OK to bomb children and other innocents in Gaza.  It fits her profile.  (I just don't feel any hope nowadays for a candidate I can respect and genuinely support.)

Bob: Grant will be pleased with your spelling. Bravo!  Straight As if you can pronounce it.

Martha Waltien: As 2016 comes closer (though you might wonder if we aren't already paying too much attention to the detriment of 2014), I think there will be a lot of soul searching about Hillary Clinton. What seemed particularly shocking about her Netanyahu/Israel statements was the complete endorsement she gave to his policies* running up to the Gaza attacks and then approval of the attacks themselves. Her own former colleagues at the State Department have at least sounded some criticism, and are now with the WH reviewing munitions requests. It does put me in mind of the Clintons' tendencies to put their own prospects ahead of everything else.

*The Israeli press has done a thorough job of debunking Netanyhu's maneuvering to undermine the PLO-Hamas agreement by attacking Hamas in the West Bank for the death of the three Israeli boys when as we now know the culprits were not acting on behalf of Hamas.

How is "Gallicho" pronounced.  I've been occasionally pondering that question for years now.  My least bad guess is that it rhymes with "calico".  Am I even in the right zip code?


JP: Wrong zip code.  Last I heard it pronounced, the ch was sounded as in church.

See today's piece in today's NCR online by Fr. Drew Christensen on Israeli extremism. In a subsequent piece he will talk about Palestinian extremism. Very informative stuff.

Thanks for the info. Will look.

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